Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tattoos: are they a work of art or a walking graffiti overpass?

Do you ever feel like Rip Van Winkle waking up after being asleep for about 20 years?

That's exactly how I feel about tattoos, which are permanent marks made by inserting pigment into the skin for decorative or other reasons. Tattoos on humans are a type of decorative body modification, while tattoos on animals are most commonly used for identification or branding. In the United States many prisoners and criminal gangs use distinctive tattoos to indicate facts about their criminal behavior, prison sentences, and organizational affiliation.

Tattooing has been practiced worldwide and has become increasingly popular but at 35 years old I can honestly say that's one bandwagon I have no desire to jump on board. Most people who are in the anti-tattoo category such as myself feel the way they do because of the medical ramifications.

Since tattoo instruments come in contact with blood and bodily fluids, diseases may be transmitted if the instruments are used on more than one person without being sterilized. However, infection from tattooing in clean and modern tattoo studios employing single-use needles is rare. In amateur tattoos, such as those applied in prisons, however, there is an elevated risk of infection.

OK, I've conceded that tattoos are a fad, they are here to stay. They are becoming more popular and common. When it comes to people's fascination with tattoos, I will simply say this, "I don't get it." I never have and perhaps I never will. Again, I have nothing against people with tattoos. I have friends that have them. I just don't understand the fascination with them.

One night my wife was watching a show on CSI that featured the art of tattooing. For the record, my wife does not have any tattoos and has no desire to do so. One night, however, when watching that show, I went on my anti-tattoo diatribe. My wife responded "but it is a form of art." I replied by saying, "So is the stick figure that fourth graders draw but you don't see anyone with those tattoos."

It's not just that people feel the need to have one or two tattoos. Again, I realize it's a fad that's here to say. However, I seem to be seeing more and more people who have tattoos all over their arms, legs, chest and on the neck. That's not artwork. That's a walking overpass with graffiti. That's just like these people who think they look cool with 10 body piercings. These people look like they crawled out of a tackle box.

What's even worse is these people think they actually look cool wearing them. To that end, I guess I'll enjoy the last laugh. My message to those people is, "You might think you look cool when you're 20 or 30 but I'm going to be laughing my tail off at you when you're 60 or 70 when those tattoos look ugly on your shriveled up skin."

Tattoo fascination. I don't get it. For the record, my number of tattoos and body piercings are zero. And I intend to keep it that way.

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